Oakland Raiders: 5 Keys to Work on During Bye Week

Josh Toyofuku@jtoyofuku8Contributor IIIOctober 26, 2011

Oakland Raiders: 5 Keys to Work on During Bye Week

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    For the Oakland Raiders (4-3), Week 1 of the Carson Palmer project didn't go exactly how Hue Jackson had planned.

    The Raiders suffered a 28-0 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs (3-3)—their worst loss of the season.

    Oakland was playing in their first game without quarterback Jason Campbell, who had fractured his collarbone one week earlier, prompting the Palmer deal at the trade deadline.

    Palmer entered in the second half and threw three interceptions. Kyle Boller, the starter, also had three interceptions on the day.

    Luckily for the Raiders, they have a bye week now before they face another division rival, the Denver Broncos. It will give Palmer much-needed time to familiarize himself with his new teammates. Let's hope he uses that time wisely.

    Here's what Oakland needs to work on to come out firing on all cylinders on Nov. 6th.

5. Limit Penalties

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    Historically, the Raiders have always been one of the most penalized teams in the league.

    2011 is proving no different.

    Oakland leads the league in both penalties and penalty yards with 69 and 600, respectively. That's 10 more penalties and 100 more yards than the second-place Carolina Panthers.

    Even Aaron Curry (left), in just his second game with the team after being acquired from Seattle, got in on the action by committing a personal foul at the start of the second half.

    If the Raiders work on cutting down penalties and successfully do so in games, they can stop giving teams extra yardage on drives—something that almost came back to haunt them in Houston.

4. Focus on Pass Defense

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    Safety Michael Huff holds the title for being involved in the most defining play of the Raiders 2011 season (pictured above).

    The day after the death of Raider owner Al Davis, Huff intercepted Matt Schaub in the end zone with no time left on the clock and only 10 men on the field to preserve an Oakland victory.

    Outside that play, however, the Raider secondary has been mediocre this season. Cornerback Stanford Routt is improving and Huff is having a breakout year. But beyond those two, the Raiders have only seen glimpses of what their secondary is possible of achieving, and have not eviscerated memories of now-departed Nnamdi Asomugha shutting down receivers on a weekly basis.

    This bye week is a time to focus on pass defense and make sure that they improve from the 25th best in the league. The emergence of Demarcus Van Dyke can certainly help with that stat.

3. Get Healthy

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    The Raiders are a very physical team, but it's starting to catch up with them.

    Running back Darren McFadden (pictured), the leading rusher in the NFL, only saw action in two plays Sunday before leaving the game with a sprained right foot. Middle linebacker Rolando McClain and safety Matt Giordano also suffered injuries in the game.

    On top of that, kicker Sebastian Janikowski, fullback Marcel Reece, guard Bruce Campbell, wide receiver Chaz Schilens, and cornerbacks Chris Johnson and Chimdi Chekwa were all inactive for Sunday's matchup.

    The bye week couldn't come at a better time for the Raiders because it will allow them extra time to rest.

    Early signs are pointing to returns from McFadden, McClain, Janikowski, and Reece by the Broncos game. 

2. Build Chemistry

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    After only having spent a few days in the organization, it was clear that Carson Palmer (pictured) was out of sorts in his first action in 10 months.

    Once Jason Campbell got hurt, Palmer, the former disgruntled Cincinnati Bengal, became the favorite to replace him as the starter in Oakland. He has a clear connection with Raider head coach Hue Jackson from their days together at USC and in Cincinnati. 

    However, no matter how much chemistry and familiarity those two have with each other, that doesn't translate into chemistry with Palmer's Raiders teammates.

    This bye week can provide time for Palmer to get to better know the playbook and work with his new receivers like Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford, and Denarius Moore.

    Most of the wide receivers will be staying in the Bay Area during the off week for that exact purpose.

1. Stay Calm

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    Yes, the Raiders lost badly at home to a mediocre team on Sunday. 

    But it's not panic time. 

    Oakland has to go through a mini rebuilding process to make it through the rest of the season. There are clearly problems but they are all fixable if they put in the time and effort.

    Hue Jackson (pictured) will make sure that happens.

    This bye week couldn't come at a better time for the Raiders. They are at a crossroads and this is the bridge to the second half of the season.

    Now they just have to cross the bridge and not look back.

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